Tag Archives: Cote du rhone

St Patrick’s Day Pairings

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As March 17th 2015 approaches I am excited once again about the pairing challenge for cabbage, corned beef and the usual Saint Patrick’s day fare with wine. As you can see below Cóte du Rhône and Rose’ paired beautifully at our First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting a few years back.  There is something to be said about good note taking because the years since are a blur. What did we drink?

This year, although beer will of course also be served, I already have wine on my mind. I’m also thinking of a dinner twist; serving corned beef stuffed cabbage. Hopefully this will become a reality and not just a pending future idea like my corned beef empanadas. But you never know, if the luck of the Irish be with me and leftovers are plentiful I foresee both in my near future. Ah, I can dream…

Whole Foods Market NMIAWith the main dish checked off my list I can now concentrate on the important stuff, wine! As it slowly comes together my wine list, go figure, will start with cider. I have a delicious French, organic hard apple cider  that I think will be a welcome addition to the mix, specially in Miami’s already 85+ degree weather.  Next up a Rose’ Vihno Verde by Orlana from our Whole Foods Portugal Point of Origin  program running now. This light and fruity wine with notes of strawberries and raspberries will be the perfect transition from the drier cider.  Finally instead of a Grenache driven Cóte du Rhóne I am going to go with a 100% old vine Garnacha from the Calatayud region within Aragón, Spain. Evodia comes to mind. The low tannins yet spicy and fruity mix will add excitement to the celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day meal and drinks are planned.  What’s missing?  I should probably start inviting guests! Part of me wishes it were being held today with all the talk of wonderful foods and beverages. But at least we have something to look forward to. I better get shopping!  ¡SALUD!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained through local retailers and were either a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

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Hit or Miss? The Wall Street Journal Wine Club

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The Wall Street Journal Wine Club 

Two years into my membership I am  trying to decide whether to remain a member or invest my money on wines that I choose.   Wine clubs can be a great idea  for those with a lack of access to large varieties of vino and even those who would like to expand their horizons.  A site that reviews wine clubs including WSJ is the Wine Club Reviews and Ratings.

How the wine club works; after receiving a ridiculously inexpensive introductory case of wine, every quarter or so you receive a case [12 bottles] of reds, white or mixed depending on your preference.  The cost averages about $170.00 [U.S.] or about $15.00 per bottle for wines that are usually $12.00-$30.00 each. Other similar clubs include; Virgin and  Laithwaites.

I must admit that my first year I received wines that were very good to excellent but recently the choices have been very middle of the road to even disappointing.  Of course many factors could be at play here; bad choices by WSJ Wine Club, poor vintages, damaged product or just me and my taste buds. I must point out that WSJ will issue credit should you not be satisfied with any of their individual selections. But do you really want to be complaining on a regular basis? Maybe I have outgrown this club and its surprise element  preferring to discover wines on my own.  Could an official  Whine and Cheers for Wine Club be far off?  I say official because many of my friends are already receiving gifts, care packages and recommendations from my findings 🙂  It pays to have friends with wine benefits….

When I originally thought to write about my recent club experience it was to share all the selections I had been disappointed by: yes I had started a list.  But with the passing of time and the realization that we have enough negativity in our lives I have instead decided to share a couple of the recent delicious surprises I have imbibed thanks to the Wall Street Journal Wine Club: Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes 2010 and the Schroeder Estate 2010 Pinot Noir from Patagonia Argentina. Both artfully done somehow with intense and yet delicate flavors representative of their individual varietal/blend.  I believe I may have one more bottle of the Domaine de Lognac in my cellar to enjoy again soon but the other Schroeder has somehow disappeared.  For those with access to these wines drink them now, I do not believe you will be disappointed.  ¡SALUD!

Schroeder Estate 2010 Pinot Noir

  • Country Argentina
  • Grape Pinot Noir
  • Type Still Red Wine
  • Appellation:Patagonia
  • Bottle size:75CL
  • Alcohol:14.5%
  • Units:10.875
  • Drink by:31/12/2015

The vineyards of Familia Schroeder sit in the valley of San Patricio del Chañar to the northwest of Neuquen province, at latitude 39° south.

The traits of the Patagonic terroir -stony soils, quality meltwater, a wide temperature range, frequent winds and low humidity- provide the ideal setting for an appropriate development of the vinestocks.

Endless blue skies guard 110 hectares of varieties such as Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet  Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

An absolutely delightful Pinot. Nice complex flavor,
The nose is earthy with a hint of tobacco (?), this wine is woody, yet fruity on the tongue and palette with notes of plum and blackberry, a smooth, almost sweet finish.

Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes

Domaine de Lognac Costieres de Nimes 2010

Nicolas Bacqué (of the acclaimed Domaine de Lognac) made the most of the Rhône’s stellar 2010 vintage — and judges at the prestigious Concours des Vins du Gard 2011 agreed — they gave his opulent Costières de Nîems a silver medal.

Usually it’s plush, red-fruited Grenache that’s the star in the south. But here, it’s dark and spicy Syrah taking center stage — it makes up 70% of the blend. Nicolas then added the Grenache (20%), followed by a dash (10%) of juicy Carignan.

Look for a fragrant nose, with notes of red fruit and wild berries such as blackberry and a signature, spicy herb (garrigue) character. More of the same on the palate, followed by a long, smooth finish.

Domaine Chante Cigale: 2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape

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labelAlfio Moriconi Selection Domaine Chante Cigale:  2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape

Following through on one of my two official new year resolutions for 2013, I am doing my best not to hoard good wines for future imbibing but enjoying them in the present.

After enjoying and writing about California’s Chappallet Cabernet Sauvignon in my last post we cross the ocean to France and their Chateauneuf-Du-Pape appellation.  I must admit that this wine has probably been sitting in our cellar for over a year and although aging befits this type of wine it most definitely falls into my STOP HOARDING category. A lovely gift from dear wine loving friends and neighbors, it was an easy decision when considering my ENJOY NOW choices.

Interesting notes about this wine that I discovered:

-The Domaine Chante Cigale has been in family ownership since the 19th century.

-“Chante” means singing, and “cigale” is cicada.

-The domaine owns 40 hectares of planting area for red grapes and  5 hectares for green [or white] grapes.

-Chateauneuf-Du-Pape means New Castle of the Pope, dating back to the 14th century and referring to Pope Clement V.

-This appellation allows an unusual long list of grape varietals, thirteen with as many as 18 listed in the AOC documentation.

-Up until the 1920’s wines from Chateauneuf-Du-Pape were blended with others from the general area of Avignon.  Between 1929 and 1936 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape became one of France’s first official appellations for wine.

An Alfio Moriconi Selection?

Some of you may have noted this designation on the label and or description. At first I couldn’t find much information or reference to Mr. Moriconi at Chante Cigale but as it turns out Alfio Moriconi  is the Vice President of European Wine Sales & Imports at Total Wine.  His selections are at times noted on the label itself not only because of the large quantities of wine they buy from producers but also to  draw attention to the implied quality of his choices.  To some degree I see it as a way of private labeling their products and making them available as such only through Total Wine. Pretty good marketing idea when you have that kind of buying power if you ask me.

My notes:

This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault was a rich dark burgundy color with some brown when decanted.  I was concerned at first because the upper part of the cork practically crumbled at opening due to its dryness, but luckily the lower half stayed together and was a beautiful moist sight to see as it was pulled from the bottle.  On the nose I noted this Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was; delicate dark fruit forward and listed examples of fig and guava which may have to do with my tropical background. Spicy and fruity combined. On the palate I detected a tawny dark fruit taste, a bold wine with leather, pepper and herbs coming through and little wood.

At 40 minutes I noted this wine had become much smoother with fruit becoming somewhat more delicate and distinguishable. At the 60 minute mark the fruit had come forward even more so with spiciness appreciated on the lingering finish.  My last observation on this wine came at the 90 minute mark when I noted: OPEN! And yes in capitals with an exclamation mark 🙂  I can see this medium bodied wine easily being decanted for an hour before being served to better appreciate its various flavors and smooth tannins.

We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and now I find myself thinking of a reason to invite our neighbors over again. Not that we need one really since we love sharing new wine discoveries every chance we get. CHEERS to wine loving friends everywhere and ¡SALUD!

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HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!

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Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!